p35, a viral inhibitor of caspase, prevents cell death induced by various stimuli. We established an experimental system to study the involvement of caspases in cell death, using primary cultured cells from p35 transgenic mice in which the p35 open reading frame (ORF) had been disrupted by the insertion of a DNA segment flanked by loxP sites, the Cre recognition sites. In this system, p35 expression can be initiated by Cre recombinase. Cardiomyocytes, which are highly sensitive to hypoxic stress, were infected with an adenovirus carrying the cre gene (AxCANCre). Expression of p35 by infection with AxCANCre resulted in inhibition of caspase-3 activation and resistance to hypoxia-induced cell death. Hypoxia-induced cytochrome c release was also attenuated in p35-expressing cardiomyocytes. Our transgenic mice can be used as an experimental model for studying the involvement of caspases in various degenerative diseases as well as programmed cell death both in vitro and in vivo.
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